Promotion on another Sign Notation System

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Aug 25 16:21:49 UTC 2003

SignWriting List
August 25, 2003

On Monday, August 25, 2003, at 06:38 AM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
> I would disagree with one part of this regarding SignFont. I found it
> to be
> too underspecified for ASL, which ironically is the language it was
> designed
> for. The advantage of SignWriting that I have appreciated is the fact
> that
> the degree of detail is up to me as the writer.

Everyone, and Stuart!
Thanks for this comment. Smile...As you know, SignFont was developed
for a SignWriting project..or let me explain better...The project was
"placing SignWriting on computers" at a computer group named Emerson
and Stern in San Diego, and I worked with them for 6 months on the
project. Then they got major funding from the NIH, to complete the job
of placing SignWriting on computers, and at that time, when the bigger
funding was received, they included other linguists who did not know
SignWriitng. They did not include the Deaf people who used SignWriting,
however, which upset me greatly...which is one of the reasons we pulled
out of the project...

So after a rather interesting meeting at Emerson and Stern, with at
least 20 hearing people, the linguists who did not know SignWriting
made a statement...that they wanted to develop their own writing system
and not use SignWriting, and that they did not need the many symbols of
SignWriting...they could hone it down to 8 basic handshapes they
said...So I explained that the DAC had worked with me for years to
develop the symbols necessary to write ASL, and if they throw many of
those symbols out they may find that they don't have enough symbols to
really write ASL.

I politely pulled our SignWriting system out of that project, because
my Deaf staff and I both felt we were not appreciated. The group that
was left developed what is called SignFont today. And then later, after
they had developed SignFont, they asked Don Newkirk to promote it, and
then I believe that Don took it further...

So the fact that you feel there are not enough symbols to really write
ASL with SignFont, Stuart, is an interesting point, and perhaps by the
story above you can see why that happened...

I am fully aware we have a lot of symbols, and that is why I am
preparing a SignBank for Research Use and a SignBank for Everyday Use,
so that there is a real flexibility and users can choose their desired
degree of complexity or simplicity...

Val ;-)

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